Armani Jackson, Co-Editor-in-Chief
In the 21st century, race is an uncomfortable conversation. Race refers to a person’s physical characteristics and others are socially obligated to form a complete judgment based on a few unexplained, non-contextual facts of life.
As of July, Puyallup is a city that’s 84.4 percent white, according to the U.S. census. Pierce College at the district level is 53.7 percent white, according to the official website. In a city with a majority white community, those identifying with anything else are automatically a minority.
Being born mixed race, the term “minority” has been synonymous with the name on the birth certificate. Government forms subdivide and classify mixed racial people as “other.” Rather than being able to explain what they identify as, they must check every box that corresponds to their’s and their parent’s race. To everyone else, mixed races don’t exist. They’re just two (or more) pieces of the greater, whiter picture.
Under the racial origins of the most recent report, mixed race is a category but doesn’t have any data to accompany it in the Puyallup area. Instead, the category leaves the field with an x, marked “not applicable.”
A multiracial individual isn’t even real enough to exist in statistical data on the federal level. The report that included mixed races most recently present within the community was in April 2010. Even then it was 5.5 percent. At Pierce, the population is a little more diverse with a mixed-race population of 9.73 percent. But the problem is, how can these individuals have a sense of community or belong in an area that doesn’t do much to support their existence?
Even the internet has a negative view of the culture. If “mixed race” is Googled, the first page is populated with terms like struggles, tired and problems, the most emotional headline being “Mixed feelings, mixed race: a path to freedom.”
For someone who’s mixed with African American and white, they’re too white to be black and too black to be white. No one sees them as their own race, and if they do it’s only to belittle them with documentation.
Mixed people have multiple cultures to adhere to. They have a difficult time assimilating into the area because they carry baggage from their other half. They’re forced to view things from every racial viewpoint they’re made of and are required to achieve the balance that accurately represents who they are, who people perceive them to be and where they want to belong. In a culture where being multi-racial isn’t legitimate, those who identify as such can’t belong in everyone else’s world. Alexander Williams, a rapper and activist, put it best in a blog post written for The Huffington Post.
“You don’t experience things in a linear fashion, but through a series of multifaceted layers outlined by the trauma of your ancestors,” Williams explained. “The racism I receive as a black man in the United States isn’t just an attack to the racial heritage I carry on from my black ancestors. It’s an attack specific to my racial mixture — and I experience this racism not only as a black man, but as a Native American and a European.”
How can someone whose heritage is both slaves and slave-owners live peacefully in a society where each of their cultures despise the other? Every day they’re forced to see themselves as an outsider. Nothing on this campus or in this community is tailored to those who attempt to walk the line of being multiracial.
These individuals are paraded around like a show pony; their world is like living in the petting tank at an aquarium. Thousands of people flock to them each day asking to touch their hair or skin. Being told “You don’t look mixed” is a compliment. Others think they have the right to approach a multiracial individual and ask “Where are you from?” And when they’re told they’ve lived in Washington all their life, it’s believed as a lie. They go on prying to say “No, like where are you from? What’s your ethnicity?” No one in today’s society can comprehend that two people of contrasting racial identities can fall in love and give birth to a multiracial child.
It’s an insult when people say “Wow. You’re surprisingly beautiful.” The question is, what’s the surprise? Is it that two people, each with a rich and vivid culture can’t create something stunning solely because they’re completely different races?
Mixed-race individuals can’t change who they are. Their skin color and racial identities are out of their control from the moment of conception. If society stopped subdividing them, and viewed them as an actual human being the world would be better for everyone. The problem doesn’t lie on their skin, it lies under everybody else’s. If it’s that hard to understand that someone of mixed race is and can be seen as one, fully-developed person, then no one should have any hope for the future of society. Humans are humans whether mixed race or not.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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